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The French early music group L'Arpeggiata has notched a two-decade record of success with innovative performances of early Baroque music that feature the irregular quality originally associated with the word "Baroque." The group has also performed and recorded music that explores the similarities between Baroque music and jazz, and also between Baroque and traditional music, in novel ways.
L'Arpeggiata was founded in the year 2000 by the Austrlan-born theorbo player Christina Pluhar, who has spent much of her professional life in Paris but continues to teach at her alma mater, the University of Graz. The name L'Arpeggiata comes from that of a toccata by German-Italian composer Giovanni Girolamo Kapsperger. By the 2010s the group had appeared at many of the world's top venues, including Wigmore Hall in London, Carnegie Hall in New York, the Concertegebouw in Amsterdam, and the Sydney City Recital Hall. They have appeared at major festivals including the Ludwigsberger Schlossfestspiele, the Pontoise Baroque Festival, and the Musikfestspiele Potsdam Sanssouci, where they presented the opera Il Paride (1662) by Giovanni Andrea Bontempi. They have collaborated not only with top artists in the Baroque field, such as Philippe Jaroussky, but musicians from genres other than concert music, including jazz and flamenco.
During the first part of its career, L'Arpeggiata recorded primarily for France's Alpha label, which specialized in sumptuously packaged recordings that drew parallels between music and art of a specific period. Their first album for the label, in 2002, was devoted to cantatas by Stefano Landi, and the composer of their namesake work, Kapsperger, received a full-length album treatment in 2004. In the late 2000s they recorded several albums for Naïve, but since then they have worked primarily with the major French label Erato. Examples of their eclectic Baroque-based fusions may be found on their 2014 album Music for a While: Improvisations on Purcell, and on 2017's Handel Goes Wild. By that time, though deeply rooted in traditional Baroque practice, L'Arpeggiata had established a reputation as one of the early music scene's most adventurous ensembles. ~ James Manheim